Israel fast-tracks approval process for construction in settlements


Jerusalem, June 19 (IANS) Israel has fast-tracked the government procedure needed for building new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, state media reported.

The resolution by Israel’s nationalist-religious coalition government revised the approval process that has remained unchanged for the past 25 years, Xinhua news agency quoted the state-run Kan TV channel as saying.

Previously, new construction in the settlements required a series of separate approvals from the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and the Supreme Planning Council of the Civil Administration, a process that could take years.

Under the new resolution, Bezalel Smotrich, who serves as Finance Minister and a minister in the Defence Ministry who oversees settlers’ affairs, will be responsible for granting the initial approval for new construction.

Most of the other steps will be waived, except for getting approval from the planning council, according to the new procedure.

Also on Sunday, Smotrich announced that the government was set to approve the construction of 4,560 housing units throughout the West Bank.

“We will continue to develop the settlement and strengthen the Israeli hold on the territory,” Smotrich wrote on Twitter.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry denounced the move, describing it as “another step” towards an Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

Jordan also condemned the decision as unilateral.

“The expansion of the settlements and the expulsion of residents from their homes constitute a major violation of international law and UN resolutions,” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The settlements are located in the West Bank, a territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Most of the international community considers them a violation of international law and a hurdle to peace with the Palestinians.



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